How Do I Read My Water Meter? - Corley Plumbing Air Electric
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How Do I Read My Water Meter?

June, 16th, 2015

It never hurts to learn a little more about what makes your home “tick.” For example, wouldn’t it be handy to know how to turn your water off if something in your house sprung a leak? Or how to save money and one of the Earth’s most precious resources? Well we want to help you learn how to inspect your water meter and understand how to use it! So here’s what you should do:

Your Water Meter and You

Step #1: Finding your water meter.

So, obviously you can’t start any inspection if you don’t know where your water meter is! Usually your meter is going to be where the water you’re using enters your home. Now this will vary from house to house, but some good places to look are outside in your yard, or in your basement or utility room if you have either of those. (Note: if you live in an area that experiences particularly cold winters it won’t be outside.) What you’re looking for is a small, round box with a row of numbers at the top. If you just can’t seem to find it you can always call up your water company and they can tell you exactly where to look. And while you’ve got them on the phone ask them if you’re okay to inspect the meter yourself, some companies prohibit residents from opening or otherwise tampering with water meters so it’s always good to know before you start.

Step #2: Reading your water meter.

By now you’ve found your water meter and you want to understand what you’re looking at. Well it’s quite simple actually! If you’re in an older home you’ll see 6 dials each indicating a number; just read the numbers counter-clockwise (from left to right) and you’ll see how much water you’re using. For example, if you see 0 0 1 1 4 8 you’re using either 1,148 gallons or cubic feet of water (these are the standard units of measure used on water meters, be sure to know which one your meter is displaying). Newer homes have different, slightly easier to read digital displays (just like reading the gallons and total on a gas pump).

Step #3: Checking for leaks.

So you think you might have a leak. Well it’s probably best to turn that “think” into a “know” so you can act accordingly. Since your water meter is always reading your water usage you need to shut off any appliance, system, faucet, etc. that uses water in your home. We’re talking toilets, washing machines, sinks, dishwashers, and even sprinkler and irrigation systems. Once you’re sure EVERY water-using part of your residence is NO LONGER using water, head back to your water meter and check out those dials we just mentioned in the previous step. Are they moving? If they’re completely still you’re golden and there’s no leaks (YAY!), but if they are moving that means there’s water usage being measured indicating that there may be a leak somewhere. Some water meters may even have a nifty leak indicator in addition to the normal dials; if the dial on that indicator is spinning you may have a leak. If you do have a leak, give all your water using appliances and system a once over to see if you can spot the culprit.

Step #4: Shut off valve.

As you poke around trying to read your meter and check for leaks you may notice a piece right beside or very close to the main meter: this is the shut off valve. “Why would I want to turn off my water,” you ask? Let’s say you’re having some plumbing work done on your house (to fix that leak) or you’re heading off on vacation for a while… In these instances knowing how to completely shut off your water yourself is a convenient piece of information to know. To shut it off you’ll want to turn the valve to the “off position” which is usually perpendicular to the main water meter unit. If that doesn’t seem right based on the parts you’re looking at, try turning the valve clockwise until it just won’t turn anymore.

Step #5: Making a point to conserve.

So you know where your water meter is, you know how to read it, you’ve checked for leaks, and you can shut your water off; you’ve made it to the big leagues now! Now you’re going to learn how to make your water meter work for you by conserving water. Once you’re leak free, read your meter and make a note of how much water you’re using then go about your week making a point to use less water (take shorter showers, do larger/less frequent loads of laundry, etc.). Once the week is up go out and check your water meter again. Is the reading lower? Congratulations you King or Queen of Conservation: you just saved yourself some money and the planet some water!

Even though you feel like a pro now you may still have some questions about your water meter or some other plumbing issues, and that’s what we’re here for! Feel free to give Corley a call at 864.334.6425 or contact us online today!